Thursday, October 12, 2006

Gogo Joanna

The Zulu (one of the 11 official languages of South Africa) word for grandmother is Gogo.

The picture is of Gogo Joanna. She is 83 years old and lives in a sprawling community referred to as a squatter camp. Its landscape uncomely, the dirt roads teem with sewage and the odor is repulsive. A one, 8x10, room made of scrap metal adorned with wallpaper of magazine photos is her home. Joanna's neighbors are 150,000 others living just like her.

A wonderful, African-operated, hospice group that we work with introduced me to Joanna. It was a very special meeting albeit a cold winter day in July. I will long remember and forever cherish that day.

Joanna sat outside robed in a blanket; I sat alongside her on an upside down bucket. As our customary banter came to an end, a life-changing conversation ensued. This precious Gogo, in all her 83 years, claimed to have never heard of Jesus or have any knowledge about Him. What a precious time it was to share with her bible stories usually told to children, scripture verses of God’s love and grace and the Master’s redemptive plan.

I purposed not to share ministry updates and/or stories in my blog entries as these can be found in our monthly e-updates but was reminded today of this precious encounter while again visiting Gogo Joanna. I decided it was not “ministry” as usual but an account of a new friend.

We sat nestled inside her shack today. Her legs were swollen and sore from hypertension, her face worn with life’s hardships but her joy renewed. We laughed, we talked, we prayed. She asked if I would visit more often; I assured her I would. Biscuits (cookies) were requested to accompany my next visit. As I parted she said, “You are my friend; you brought me Jesus.”

I am grateful to be living in Africa and to be a meager instrument in the Master’s hand. Today was a special day; I spent time with a new friend!

11 comments:

karenkool said...

Simply beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

Shanygne said...

I am still tearing up... what a beautiful story...

Feel free to share more of these stories...there's only so much room in your newlsetter!

I didn't realize Sky got glasses! Emily was excited to hear that... that kinship is still in tact

Leah said...

I'm so glad you decided to share. What beautiful women.

Beth said...

I'm with Shanygne—that so made my day. Stories like that I'm sure make the incredible sacrifice worth it.

You inspire me.

kelly said...

I only wish I had such amazing, truly inspiring and meaningful stories to share...please keep sharing. It makes my heart joyful to picture you sitting in gogo's "house" and building a friendshilp.

rae said...

Praise God. Tears in my eyes. What a beautiful story.

rae said...

Praise God. Tears in my eyes. What a beautiful story.

gaylafriend said...

Michelle- I am so proud of what you and Rich are doing. All I can say is thank you for going and being there... it's a beautiful thing you are doing.

Janelle said...

To touch someone's life so significantly and to have them simplify it in such a way...wow. I wish we had more opportunities to be real with people like that here in the States. Or maybe we do and we just don't take advantage of the possibilities?

Shanygne said...

Missing you this weekend!! You are such a HUGE part of TM reality... thanks for being sucha great role model...I absoLUTELY would love to be more like you, Michelle!! You are a treasure!

Anonymous said...

Michelle,
although I love Asian, specifically SEA. I am reminded of the passion I once had for Africa as well. I realize that I am more and more just passionate about people and that no matter where I live in the world it really is all about Him. Great post.
Jamie